It doesn't have to be perfect... just do it

People who know me know I’m a bit of a perfectionist. For some things, “a bit” may even be an understatement. I’m very good at overoptimizing things, but something that I noticed more and more lately is that most of the time “pefect” is not what I should be aiming for. Many things work out very well even if they’re not perfect.


In the last few months I got sucked into the rabbit hole of personal knowledge management (PKM, definitely more on this later). Very briefly for know: it’s a system used to capture your knowledge. Most people I’ve seen so far use it in a sense of making many notes (of basically everyting they come across and have ideas about) and link those notes together. As I’ve seen how people achieve amazing things with it, I also wanted to start something like that for myself. I started using Obsidian, an amazing piece of software with a lot of possibilities. But because it is such an extensive piece of software, I wanted to make sure I got the most out of it, so I started with templates, folders, a system of tags and wanted the perfect system to organise my notes. But there was the catch… I spent so much time optimising this that the focus was on the system, rather than its purpose: making notes.

Lessons learnt

Even though it took quite some time to figure out that I was overoptimizing this, it was a valuable lesson. I now try to be more aware of it. Whether it’s an experiment, an email to many people, a (first draft of a) paper, a presentation, a planning, or something else (like this blog post), it really doesn’t have to be perfect. Just put in some effort and try to find a balance on delivering something that you’re happy with and something that doesn’t take up all of your time, because time is very valuable. I know myself well enough to know that things like this will happen again, but it helps to be a bit more aware of it. So next time you have been working on something for very long, ask yourself whether you’re still really adding value or that you’re maybe just endlessly overoptimizing things.